How Babangida, Ex-Niger Gov, Paid over N1.7bn to Non-existent Contractor – Witness
The trial of a former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, on an eight-count charge of money laundering to the tune of N2billion continued on June 26, 2018 before Justice Yalim Suleiman Bogoro of the Federal High Court, sitting in Minna, Niger State, with prosecution tendering documents to establish the complicity of the defendant in the alleged offence.
Aliyu, fondly referred to as “Chief Servant” during his time as governor is being prosecuted alongside his then Chief of Staff, Umar Nasko by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The defendants were accused of laundering ecological funds released by the Federal Government to Niger State sometime in 2014.
Nmadu Mohammed Ndawuya, the State Auditor General, Niger State, while being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Ben Ikani, narrated how the sum of N2billion was received by the Ministry of Finance and N1.7billion transferred to the then Ministry of Environment, Forestry, Parks and Garden.
Ndawuya, who testified as PW7 explained that on that same day, the said N1.7billion was paid to contractors who could not be verified, neither were thier offices located.
His words: “In 2014, the sum of N2billion was received by Ministry of Finance and N1.7billion was transferred to Ministry of Environment, Forestry, Parks and Garden.
“The same day, it was paid out to three contractors. We wanted to know the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, between the three contractors and the government. We wanted to see the necessary due process of documentation, such as; advertisement of the contract in the paper and certificate of no objection. We also wanted to verify the work done. All these were not available. No evidence.
“We also wanted to establish the contractors based on the available addresses on the available documents.
“I sent someone to Abuja to locate the offices but he could not locate their offices”.
When asked whether he did a report to the government afterwards, the witness answered “Yes, we wrote to the Ministry, seeking clarity on the abnormalities, but we didn’t receive any response”.
He added that another report was sent to the House of Assembly concerning the matter.
The report entitled “REPORT OF THE AUDITOR GENERAL TO THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE ACCOUNT OF NIGER STATE GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA 2014” was tendered and admitted in evidence as ‘Exhibit GH3’.
He also informed the court that the ecological projects were never executed, neither was the said fund returned back to the government.
Another witness, PW8, Waniko Ebenezer, a relationship manager with Eco Bank, was also led in evidence by the prosecution.
Waniko, when asked if he knew a company name called “M. J. Eco Limited”, answered in the negative.
Waniko informed the court how over N400million was injected into the said company’s account within 7months.
“When the account was opened in May 2014, there were an inflow of N246million. In July, same year, the account had an inflow of N123million, while in December, it had another inflow of N123million”, he said.
Asked if he had any evidence to show concerning the inflows and the witness said “there were transfers from the Ministry of Environment and the Statement of Account will show the inflows”.
The witness also explained that the procedure used in printing the documents include the generation of Certificate of Authentication and the Statement of Account.
The Certificate of Authentication and the Statement of Account, generated by the bank were were tendered but only the Certificate of Authentication was admitted in evidence as ‘Exhibit GH4’.
The matter has been adjourned to June 27, 2018, for continuation of trial.
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